A Romano-British bronze fibula plate featuring the ‘gammadion’ or ‘tetra-gammadion’ formation. The brooch is formed of four-radiating zoomorphic heads in slightly varying sizes, possibly horses seen in profile. Each head displays a ring-and-dot motif to render the animals’ eyes; a similar motif is repeated at the centre of the piece. Detailing to the figures’ mane is still visible and executed with two slanted grooves carved next to the animals’ large eyes. The reverse of the brooch remains unworked and would have accommodated a mobile pin for fastening to clothing, which is now unfortunately missing.
Date: Circa AD 43 - 410 Provenance: From a Surrey gentleman's collection (D.G.), purchased on the London Art market from ADA member, 1990s - onwards. Condition: Good condition, patination remains on the surface. The pin is now missing.
Fibulae or brooches were originally purposed as garment fasteners in the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers especially, wore fibulae as decorative piece to keep their cloaks together. These brooches replaced straight pins that were used to fasten clothing in the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. Fibulae are the most common artefact-type in burials and settlements throughout much of the continental Europe. Their modern day equivalent are the trustworthy safety pin.
There were a multitude of fibula designs in Roman culture, this particular brooch involves the gammadion or ‘tetra-gammadion’ symbol, which is constructed from four Greek gamma (Γ) letters. In ancient times these four terminals represent the four cardinal corners of the world and the guardianship of the earth.
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